13 I will lift up the cup of salvation and praise the Lord’s name for saving me.
— Psalm 116:13 NLT
If God never did another thing for us after giving us the gift of salvation, it would be more than sufficient reason for us to praise Him forever. Yet, He just keeps on giving and giving. Every breath is a gift. “Every good and every perfect gift is from above”. Those gifts come from the Father in whom there is no variation. He has always been a giver, He is a giver now and He has no plans to change. He is the Solid Rock, whatever good there is comes from Him and that will not change. Every day is a day that He has made just for us. He doesn’t need day and night, they are a gift for frail humans whose minds are too small to grasp an eternity with no seams. He gives us “a time for all things”. He is never more than a thought away from us. He is our constant companion so that we are never alone. If we were in heaven with Jesus, we would be praising Him constantly. Yet, here on earth we live every day in His presence and spend little or no time praising Him and offering up thanks for all that He does. We should praise the Lord daily for saving us and tell the world about our salvation. Our tongues should be like the “pen of a ready writer” and tell the story over and over. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
16 Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. — Titus 1:16 NLT
Paul considered both Timothy and Titus to be his sons in the faith and as such, it was his joy and job to mentor them. Even though he left them at different churches to carry on the work that he had started, he contiuned to do this by writing them letters. In his 2nd letter to Timothy and here in this letter to Titus, Paul warns them about wasting their time in foolish talk and conversations. This type of behavior usually leads to divisions in the body of Christ. Crete was obviously well known for this type of activity since Paul quotes one of their own Cretan prophets as describing them as “liars, cruel animals and lazy gluttons”. That’s harsh condemnation of one’s fellow countrymen. However, it would not be hard to make that description fit a portion of our society today. The point Paul wants to make to Titus is that he has a tough job ahead of him. He is living among people who will make all sorts of claims and statements of their faith, but they don’t really know God and their lifestyles prove that they don’t. When we hear the Gospel of Jesus, we accept it as truth because the Holy Spirit has purified and prepared our minds to accept it. Those whose minds and consciences are corrupt will perceive all truth as being corrupt. The task for Titus was to convince them of the truth of the Gospel by his lifestyle. That is our task in our society today.
41 “If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.” — John 9:41 NLT
Jesus had just healed this blind man by making mud with dirt and His own spit. Can you imagine anyone in today’s society allowing Jesus to put that compress on their eyes? Can you imagine how many lawsuits Jesus would have been faced with because of His actions? How many shots and vaccines would this man have been advised to take because the spit of Jesus had touched his skin? Even back then, Jesus and the once-blind man had to suffer rejection and persecution because Jesus did this good deed on the Sabbath. It is not recorded that even one person besides the blind man himself, was excited and happy for him. When called by the Pharisees, even his parents refused to stand up for him because they feared rejection themselves. Isn’t still that way today? When we see good things happen to people, don’t we question and doubt? Don’t we try to tear down rather than build up? Don’t we look for hidden reasons that this happened? After all, it is just smoke and mirrors, right? As long as we think we can see, we will not ask for sight. As long as we trust our own intellignece, we will not ask for God’s wisdom. We, like the Pharisees and religious leaders will remain blind and ignorant because we claim we can see and understand when we cannot even imagine what God has in store for us. Not just in the sweet by and by in heaven, but right here and right now. We must ask God to open our eyes to see and our hearts and minds to believe so that we can access all the power and wisdom that He wants to give us.
17 “Jeremiah, get ready. Stand up and tell them everything I command you to say. Don’t be afraid of the people, or I will give you good reason to be afraid of them. 18 Today I am going to make you a strong city, an iron pillar, a bronze wall. You will be able to stand against everyone in the land: Judah’s kings, officers, priests, and the people of the land.19 They will fight against you, but they will not defeat you, because I am with you to protect you!” says the Lord. — Jeremiah 1:17-19 NCV
God had just told Jeremiah to go and tell the rulers and the people of Jersusalem that the city would soon be overrun with armies from the north. Once the disaster started, it would be over quickly, like water pouring from a pot that has been tipped over. It is understandable that Jeremiah probably was not too excited about delivering that message to the kings and their armies. Jeremiah would soon learn the lesson that we need to learn. God never sends us on a mission that He has not prepared us to go on. He never sends us alone, He is always with us. If He says we will not be defeated, then we can be assured that He will prevail for us. It is our weakest moments that God uses for His glory. He wants the odds against us winning to be so great that when we do win and the world sees it, they have no choice but to say that our God is the Great Almighty God. Jeremiah was told to “gird up his loins” (KJV) to prepare himself physically for the battle since he would be facing people. Since our warfare now is not against people but against spiritual rulers and demons, we are told to “gird up the loins of our minds”. (KJV).
13 So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. — 1 Peter 1:13 NLT
Whether the battle is physical or spiritual, the battle is not ours, it belongs to the Lord. He will overcome and we will not be defeated. But, just as Jeremiah was directed to stand up and deliver the message to the people, our instructions are the same. So, we need to prepare ourselves and our minds for the tricks of the devil and be ready to stand up and tell the world everything that God will give us to say.
13 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. 14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. 15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” — 1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV
God has made each of us different, but there is one thing that every human has in common, we were all born in sin into a sinful world. We have all succumbed to those fleshly desires that kept us from enjoying the freedom that Jesus died to purchase for us. When we have those thoughts that we might be better than others we need to be reminded that there was a time when we lived in ignorance of the goodness and the graciousness of God. Paul warns us in Romans not to think of ourselves as better than others.
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. — Romans 12:3 NIV
In Philippians, Paul takes it a step further and advises us to put others and their interests above ourselves and our interests.
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. –Phil. 2:3, 4 NIV
If we practice doing this instead of being judgmental, we will be following the example that Jesus set for us. If we have this mindset and focus on the fact that the only difference in us and them is the grace that God has so generously given unto us, it will cause us to show those around us the same kind of grace and forgiveness that God has shown to us. That is a step toward being holy even as God is holy.
14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. — 2 Cor. 3:14-18 NIV
Even though the veil was rent when Jesus died on the cross, there are those who who will hear the news and not accept it as truth. Whether they claim to believe the law or not, their refusal of the offer of salvation leaves them under the law. Therefore, when the Old Testament is read, a veil covers their heart. They hear but they refuse to understand. The veil is not removed from our eyes and hearts until we accept Jesus as our Savior. The law and the veil keep us in bondage and lead to death. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the veil is removed and the Holy Spirit comes to abide in us giving us freedom and life. At that moment, we are saved from the wrath of God and eternal punishment. But, God wants us to have more than just salvation, He wants us to understand that now we are being sanctified or set apart for His service and for His glory. He wants us to get to know Him, to have a relationship with Him and participate in the abundant life. For that to happen, we must spend time contemplating and meditating on His Word. As we spend time with God, the Holy Spirit is transforming us into the image of God.
2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. — 1 John 3:2, 3 NIV
6 And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us. 7 For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. 8 We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow.10 Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” 11 Yet we hear that some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business. 12 We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. 13 As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.–2 Thess. 3:6-13 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
Paul warns the new converts about idle minds and idle hands. We should show others the love of Jesus Christ by being a good example to them. Paul worked as a tentmaker to buy his own food. He admonishes us to always be a help and not a burden to those around us. We should encourage each other in doing good deeds and helping unbelievers. If there are those among us who are unable to work either permanently or temporarily, we need to help provide their needs. Jesus tell us that when we do this for others here on earth, it is the same as doing it for Him. We should always be working for our Lord and Savior. James tells us::
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.-James 4:17 (NKJV)
When we see a need, we need to meet that need to the best of our ability. Doing good works here on earth is how we lay up rewards in heaven.
21 One day when the crowds were being baptized, Jesus himself was baptized. As he was praying, the heavens opened, 22 and the Holy Spirit, in bodily form, descended on him like a dove. And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.–Luke 3:21,22 (NLT)
God is waiting to show you the way.
18 The disciples of John the Baptist told John about everything Jesus was doing. So John called for two of his disciples, 19 and he sent them to the Lord to ask him, “Are you the Messiah we’ve been expecting, or should we keep looking for someone else?”–Luke 7:18,19 (NLT)
28 I tell you, of all who have ever lived, none is greater than John. Yet even the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he is!”–Luke 7:28 (NLT)
John the baptist baptized Jesus in the Jordan River and saw with his own eyes God’s Holy Spirit come down in bodily form like a dove and He heard the voice from heaven confirming that Jesus was the Son of God. We would think that nothing could make him doubt who Jesus was. Yet, when John was in prison. we can see that he began to have doubts about Jesus being the Messiah and sent two of his disciples to inquire if Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. Notice that Jesus did not criticize or condemn John but rather paid him a great compliment. At that time, the time before Jesus had been crucified and resurrected, Jesus said that John was the greatest man to have ever lived. But he qualified His statement saying that “the least person in the Kingdom of God is greater than he” Although, John baptized with water, there was no salvation or baptism in the Spirit until after Jesus was resurrected and ascended. Since Jesus did not condemn John or any of the disciples for having doubt and “little faith”, neither does He condemn us when doubts enter our minds. He draws us to Himself and gives us peace in the middle of the storms.